The revised draft National Policy Statements on energy - Energy and Climate Change Contents

1  Introduction

Reform of the planning system

1. The Planning Act 2008 introduced a new system for issuing planning consent for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) to be administered by a new body, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).[1] It was intended that the IPC would be guided in its decisions by National Policy Statements (NPSs) which would provide clarity on the main issues that the IPC should take into account when considering planning applications. It is now proposed by the Government—in the Localism Bill—that the IPC will shortly be abolished and decisions will then be taken by the relevant Secretary of State, with advice from a new Major Infrastructure Planning Unit (MIPU).[2] The NPSs are intended to set out national policy on key strategic planning topics, including energy policy areas, and to provide certainty for potential investors about the long-term policy environment.

2. In this report we consider the Government's revised proposals for six energy NPSs. These are:

  • Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1);
  • National Policy Statement for Fossil Fuel Electricity Generating Infrastructure (EN-2);
  • National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3);
  • National Policy Statement for Gas Supply Infrastructure and Gas and Oil Pipelines (EN-4);
  • National Policy Statement for Electricity Networks Infrastructure (EN-5); and
  • National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation (EN-6).

3. Before the NPSs can be used to guide the determination of planning applications, they must be "designated", in these cases by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. It is a requirement under the Planning Act 2008, that prior to designation (i.e. coming into effect) each NPS must be subject to:

  • public consultation;
  • an Appraisal of Sustainability; and
  • parliamentary scrutiny.[3]

Consultation and parliamentary scrutiny 2009-2010

4. The six draft National Policy Statements on energy (NPSs) were first published for consultation in November 2009. Section 9 of the Planning Act 2008 requires a period of Parliamentary scrutiny of the NPSs. On 10 November 2009 the Liaison Committee National Policy Statements Sub-Committee designated the Energy and Climate Change Committee to consider the draft energy NPSs as the main element of the parliamentary scrutiny stage in the House of Commons. Our predecessor Committee examined these original draft NPSs in detail between January and February 2010. It received written and oral evidence from a wide range of organisations. The Committee published its Report on 23 March 2010 with a significant number of recommendations for changes to the NPSs and the designation procedure.[4]

5. The House of Lords debated the draft NPSs in its Grand Committee on 23 February 2010 and 9 and 11 March 2010.[5] Following the Grand Committee debates, Members of the House of Lords laid resolutions to amend some of the NPSs. A debate was held in the House of Lords on 29 March 2010, but all five motions were withdrawn.[6]

6. The Government published a response to the House of Lords debates and to our predecessor Committee's Report in October 2010.[7]

Publication of the revised draft National Policy Statements on Energy

7. As a result of comments received in response to its consultation, the Government made changes to the draft NPSs and in particular to the accompanying draft Appraisals of Sustainability (AoSs). Revised versions of both the NPSs and the AoSs were published for public consultation on 18 October 2010, with the deadline for responses set at 24 January 2011. The Government has given an undertaking that prior to designation, each NPS will in future be subject to a formal ratification process in Parliament. The proposals for how this will be done are contained in the Localism Bill, published in December 2010. Prior to those proposals being enacted, if Parliament agrees them, the Government has indicated that it will seek a non-statutory resolution of the Commons before designation of any NPS in its final form. It acknowledges that further revision of the revised proposals for the six energy-related NPSs may be necessary before the final version is put before Parliament for debate and votes on the individual statements.[8] Designation, if they are approved by Parliament, is planned for Spring 2011.

8. The Government held three national events on the revised draft energy NPSs in Bristol, Manchester and London. These events were intended to explain to the public the changes that had been made to the original draft NPSs, to hear views on the changes, and to encourage people to respond to the consultation.[9]


9. On 28 October 2010, the Liaison Committee re-designated the current Energy and Climate Change Committee to consider the revised draft energy NPSs. We decided to focus our scrutiny on the changes made to the NPSs and AoSs and took oral evidence from Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State, and officials, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Friends of the Earth, the RSPB, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the Renewable Energy Association, the UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Nuclear Industry Association and Peter Atherton, Head of European Utility Sector Research for Citigroup Global Markets. We also received written evidence from the Stop Hinckley Campaign and RenewableUK.

10. During our inquiry, in response to our predecessor's recommendation,[10] the Government scheduled a debate on the draft energy NPSs on 1 December 2010.[11] This helped inform our deliberations. We are grateful to all those who gave evidence to us or took part in the House of Commons debate.

1   Planning Act 2008, section 1 Back

2   See paragraphs 46-51 below. Back

3   Planning Act 2008, sections 5-7 Back

4   Energy and Climate Change Committee, Third Report of Session 2009-10, The proposals for national policy statements on energy, HC 231-I Back

5   HL Deb, 23 February 2010, cols GC247-292, HL Deb, 9 March 2010, cols GC45-92, HL Deb, 11 March 2010, cols GC135-182 Back

6   HL Deb, 29 March 2010, cols 1191-1225 Back

7   Department of Energy and Climate Change, The Government's response to Parliamentary Scrutiny of the draft National Policy Statements for Energy Infrastructure, October 2010 Back

8   HC Deb, 1 December 2010, cols 910, 926 Back

9   Ev 37 Back

10   HC (2009-10) 231, para 5 Back

11   HC Deb, 1 December 2010, col 889 Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 26 January 2011